THE HOUSE AT BOUNDARY ROAD, LIVERPOOL season started tonight, featuring the largest cast to ever grace The Old 505 stage, with the story of Australia’s post-war immigration played out in the same house over four generations.
The play has been written collaboratively by four different playwrights each of whom have a unique immigrant heritage: Violette Ayad (performer in Coram Boy), Thomas De Angelis (Chamber Pot Opera), Chika Ikogwe (performer in Fangirls) and Jordan Shea (Kasama Kita).
In 1953, Roberto and Anna are building a house in Boundary Rd, Liverpool. They only arrived from Italy last year, and the heat, inconsistent work and lack of friends is starting to wear them out. By the mid-1970s, the Italians are gone and now an alcoholic Jovy and his two adult sons are struggling to make enough money for themselves to get by, and all the while the family back in the Philippines keep calling and asking for cash. At the cusp of the new millennium, two young Lebanese/Palestinian women return to their childhood home on Boundary Rd and can’t quite say goodbye to it – even though the olive tree they loved is gone. And in 2018, young Chioma wrestles with a serious dilemma: a party this weekend, a stern Nigerian mother, and a high school crush that she just can’t get over. What could go wrong?
Originally conceived by Thomas De Angelis (Unfinished Works), THE HOUSE AT BOUNDARY ROAD, LIVERPOOL is based on the experience of De Angelis’ grandparents, who came to Australia from Italy in 1952: “My nonna and nonno found themselves living amongst migrants who came predominantly from Europe. But over the years, the street’s population changed and new residents from Asia, the Middle East and more recently Sub-Saharan Africa, arrived and built their own homes. Nonna would often keep me up to date with who was coming and going, and this gave me the idea for a play about the shared migrant experience over sixty years.”
Writing the most recent-in-time piece, actor Chika Ikogwe is making her playwriting debut. “It’s been an amazing experience to work on a show that spans such a long period of history and involves so many people – and that’s part of what makes this process such a delight. I’ve had the chance to collaborate with such a wide variety of voices and present work in an incredibly accessible space, like The Old 505.”
Developed over the course of 2018/19, THE HOUSE AT BOUNDARY ROAD, LIVERPOOL aims to place the immigrant experience centre-stage and has brought together an expansive cast and creative team numbering over twenty-five. This colossal undertaking has seen the production account for a wide range of perspectives, and a plurality of backgrounds.
Director Jessica Arthur (Banging Denmark), herself a second-generation Italian/Egyptian woman, is delighted to be working on the project: “It’s extremely rare to work on a play that involves four playwrights, and the process of stitching each of the stories together has been a real thrill.”
Photo credit Clare Hawley